A Brief Introduction to Reimagining Leadership

How do we reimagine and why?  This sounds like a simple enough question, but many people struggle when faced with the prospect of filing a ‘blank sheet of paper’ in front of them.  We first must clear our minds of ‘noise’ and focus on what we want to reimagine and why.  The tendency is to jump into the rethinking mode, building on what already exists and trying to improve it.  This is the second stage.  The first is to reimagine.

What have we experienced?  Experience is often our story, but it is also the narrative of others.  How do we feel about the leadership that have experienced?  How do others feel about the leadership that you have provided?  Experience will often drive transformation which is the collective efforts of several people or teams.

The first challenge is to avoid thinking that we know what ‘good’ looks like.  We need to be more agile in our thinking.  Look at both internal and external experiences.  Focusing exclusively on customers/clients will exclude your team members and, vice versa.  Seek out exceptional experiences, both positive and negative, and then explore what could be.

Before we look ahead, we need to look backward

This section begins with a brief outline of the history of leadership. You are taken on a hitchhikers guide of 4,000 years of thinking and writing about leadership. We start with the Old World Leaders (the “OWLs”), such as Aristole, progress to the New World Leaders (the “NWLs”) who adapted alongside the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution and then finally consider the Global World Leaders (the “GWLs”) who emerged from the Millennial onwards.

From Individual to Collective Leadership

The impact of you as a leader, your team, organisation or partnership and its networks affects how the public interest is served. In promoting collective leadership, we draw together different leadership levels and approaches that adapt to the context in which leadership occurs. We consider the different requirements towards, and needs of, the diverse levels of leadership and its recipients. We live in an age of complexity and uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated this across the world with different approaches being taken in tackling this global leadership challenge.

The blurring of the Public Interest

The public interest is often defined as acts that focus on the public’s well-being or, originating from Aristotle, the common good. The boundaries are blurring. The public interest is not just about leaders who work in the public sector, such as health workers, local government, emergency services or voluntary groups. It is includes the private sector as the public form part of their customer base. Most important is the notion of social responsibility. Building economic, social and environmental well-being are all public values. Public interest is a practical and worthwhile measure in any policy or public leadership analysis.

One Minute Video Introduction


Three 5 Minute Nuggets


Click on each image below to open the E-Learning Nugget

Try to Reimagine

We need to look at the past before we think about the future. We stand on the shoulders of giants but we should also learn the lessons of the past in recreating our future.


Reimagining New Ways

In thinking about leadership, are we trying to put new ideas into old thinking patterns? The complexity of leadership in the New World (21st century) needs new ways of thinking.

Reflect and Rethink …

Having reimagined new ways of leading based on our knowledge of the past, how can we make changes both as individual leaders but also through the collective?  Our first step is to reflect and then rethink.

Are you ready to read more about the historical background to reimagining?

Silverback Gorilla
Courage alone is not enough

In the Selfless Leader, published in 2016, the first chapter set out to explore thousands of years of leadership thinking in twenty and a half pages; no mean feat! It began with a quotation from Thomas Carlyle in 1840, who said that “The History of the World is but a Biography of Great Men”. This marked a turning point between the thoughts and observations of philosphers from Antiquity and throughout the centuries and what followed. Credited with being the founding father of the idea of the “Great Man Theory” of leadership, it had a significant impact. In this portal, we build on those twenty and a half pages and draw attention to some of the essential thinking that has shaped leadership through the modern (from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution) and beyond to what some call the post-modern world. The first part of this portal is thus important in shaping the remainder. We need to know where we have come from, where we are and where we want to be.

For a more detailed outline of this historical perspective, click here.

The Selfless Leader